Publishers – Binders – Goldsmiths. Historical book covers from the collections of the National Museum in Krakow

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  • Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - Sunday, February 28, 2021

A presentation of seventy old prints with covers made of leather applied to boards and embossed with bookbinding tools in the style corresponding to the era of their printing. Boards used to be a commonly used material for binding books. Stitched sheets of paper or parchment were connected to boards with leather straps or ropes. The boards were then covered with leather, and it is the leather covers – embossed with gold, silver and blind print – that are the subject of our interest and research.

Since the Middle Ages, bookbinders have been decorating book covers using various tools: presses, cutting wheels and plaques, which they used to emboss decorative elements in leather in patterns characteristic for the binding period. We have managed to identify some of the people who contributed to the binding styles. These included printers-publishers, as well as eminent bibliophiles, who were wealthy and often travelled or imported books from distant countries, imposing the desired style of binding on the craftsman. To a lesser extent, goldsmiths cooperated with bookbinders – the raw materials they used were expensive, so they were used to decorate exceptional books: liturgical books and prayer books.

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